How to Teach English in Latin America

If you have considered teaching English in a foreign country, you should think of a position in Latin America. There are many amazing countries to choose from in Latin America, all with their own rich histories and beautiful landscape features. Many of these countries contain a part of the majestic Andes Mountains, which is great for skiers. There are several factors that you should taking into consideration, not only when thinking about taking a teaching position in Latin America at all, but also in which country you will choose.

What qualifications are necessary for one of these teaching positions?

To be qualified to teach English in Latin America, you have to, at the bare minimum, possess a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification, as well as a high school diploma. A bachelor’s degree is preferred in most cases. You should also be a native English speaker, although some nations’ schools do not require this. You should also try to learn as much Spanish as possible before you move to a Latin American country (Portuguese if you choose to teach in Brazil). This is generally not a requirement for teaching position, as you will be communicating with your students in English; however, employers will definitely view your knowledge of their native language as an advantage. Also, you would be able to more effectively communicate with your students, as well as the other people that you encounter in the country. You should, at the very least, learn a few basic Spanish (or Portuguese) phrases.

What kind of pay rate can I expect as an English teacher?

The general salary can vary a great deal, based on the type of position and your qualifications. Countries also vary a great deal in their salary offerings, tax rates, and general nature of teaching contracts. In many Latin American countries, you can actually expect much higher pay as a private tutor than as a contract teacher, although Peru is an exception to this rule.

What benefits are included, other than the salary?

It is rare for employers to provide you with reimbursement for airfare, living accommodations, or health care. Some countries, however, are exceptions to this rule. Most countries have at least a few employers that offer paid holidays. Higher levels of benefits, including living accommodations or allowances, are usually provided for people who are teaching English at the university level.

What are the visa requirements for one of these positions in Colombia?

To live in a Latin American country, the visa requirements can vary from country to country. Many teachers opt for tourist’s visas, although in most Latin American countries this will only allow them to stay in the country for 3-6 months. This typically means they will have to leave and re-enter the country after this period has passed. A more formal visa option exists as well in most countries, although these are generally much more difficult to acquire. To obtain the documentation required to work legally in a Latin American nation, generally you should first secure a contract with a legitimate school. Then you can enter the country with all of the documentation that you are told that you need. The school will then help you apply for a work permit, and then you will apply for a temporary residence permit. Once this is obtained, then you can apply for an official work permit.

What kinds of jobs can I expect to find teaching English in Latin America?

There are many options for teaching positions in Latin America. You can teach at an ESL private language institute, a university language program, or even a summer camp. Many people opt to become private tutors as well, since they can often make substantially more money per hour this way than within the formal teaching contract. There are actually a few people who do very well working exclusively, and full-time, as freelance tutors in Latin American countries, particularly in Costa Rica.

Hola – I’m Jackie Luna and I like to write, travel and teach in Latin America. I have lived in 4 countries in six years and can’t wait to try even more. Learn more on how to teach English in Latin America.

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